In case you’ve been waiting with bated breath for my next post, I won’t leave you in despair for much longer.
I went to Canada with my daughter for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends. Two weeks was too short, but you’ve got to take what you can get, am I right?
Everytime I go home, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of curiosity there is around life in Italy. Everyday life. What do Italians think of this? What do Italians think of that? What do Italians think of Canada? How do you use a bidet? (Still a very popular topic of discussion.)
And of course, what’s something easy and Italian that I can make at home?
I’ll refrain from any jokes.
As it happens, my daughter is a huge seafood fan and on two different occasions I made this simple dish for lunch and dinner respectively. It’s quick, virtually foolproof, and leaves a lasting impression.
I initially thought I could get away with just writing out the recipe and publishing this, but I now realize upon some serious introspection that there are a few steps that will need to be explained.
1. “So…I just go to my local fishmarket (shout out to Codfather’s in Kelowna!) and ask for fresh mussels?”. This is a good one. First of all, when you go buying mussels you need to make sure that they’re closed. And there shouldn’t be any odor aside from the sea itself. If they smell “fishy” that’s no good. If they’re open, that’s no good either. You want to look for closed mussels with little to no smell.
2. “Awesome! I’ve got my mussels and I’m home, but I forgot that I’m making this for dinner and not for lunch.” OK – so first of all, good on you for planning in advance! Top marks for thinking ahead. Leave those mussels as they are and put them in the fridge, perhaps in a bowl. No need to add any liquid. (Now, as you’re all familiar with by now, I usually have at least one aside per post, this one will be no different. I quickly went to my friend Google to see if there were any additional steps to storing fresh mussels, and I was shocked and appalled to see that some sites will tell you that you can store your mussels for up to 5 days in the fridge! What? No! Davvero? Dai! No Italian in their right mind would do this. I’ve bought fresh mussels in the morning with plans for dinner and had the fish monger [or fish mongerer, if you will…..and I will] tell me that might be too late and ask me to rethink my meal strategy for the day.) Please, for the sake of your sauce and Italians everywhere try to use them the SAME DAY. Why not immediately like they suggest? Because until my citizenship application comes through I’m still solely Canadian and that’s how we roll.
3. “Alright – I’m ready to go. Now what do I do with these things?”. Well, I could explain it to you, or I could just post a link to this video which does a great job of showing you how to clean mussels. Yes, it’s in Italian, no, you don’t need to understand it. I’m adding to your authentic experience. 🙂
How to Clean Mussels (in Italian) – Spoiler Alert! You have the option to watch this video in English too. Try it in Italian though!
4. “Cool! I’m all set. I just read the recipe though and you said something about garlic in a dress shirt?” Ah yes. The recipe, below, that you may or may not have already skipped ahead to read calls for two cloves of garlic in camicia. I added that in mainly because it matches the photo that I took (of the EVOO, chiles, and garlic in the pan) and wanted to keep some continuity in my post. In camicia just means that you don’t peel the garlic clove, rather you leave it in it’s outer casing and then smash it, usually with the flat edge of a knife. Incidentally, this is also one of the quickest ways you can peel garlic, but that’s neither here nor there. Long story short? Recipe calls for two cloves of garlic in camicia but you’re free to do as you please. I’ll be blasphemous and say that I don’t notice a huge difference in taste.
Annnnddddd…..I think we’re ready to rock.
Brava! You’ve gotten all this way, so I’m going to give you a little twofer. If you bought extra mussels, or decided halfway through this that you’re not in the mood for spaghetti, or ANY pasta for that matter right now, don’t fret! What you see in front of you are your good ol’steamed mussels. Put those babies in a bowl, bust out some crusty bread (if you haven’t shunned gluten, or if you have, bust out your gluten free bread of choice!) and enjoy!